Texas Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, LLP - Bedford, Grapevine, Southlake, and Flower Mound, TX

Man blowing his nose sick with a common cold

While everybody has encountered a runny nose, we don’t commonly mention other types of cold symptoms because they’re less frequent. Occasionally, a cold can go into one or more ears, but you rarely hear about those. This form of cold can be more harmful than a common cold and should never be dismissed.

What does a cold in your ear feel like?

It’s not abnormal to feel some blockage in your ears when you have a common cold. After all, your ears and sinuses are connected. This blockage is usually alleviated when you take a decongestant to relieve sinus symptoms.

But you should never dismiss pain in your ear, even when you have a cold. The eardrum can be infected if the cold moves into the ears. And that will lead to inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that causes fluid to build up on the outside of the eardrum. Frequently, a slow leaking fluid accompanies this inflammation. This leak is most apparent when you sleep on your side because the leak is so slow.

This is called conductive hearing loss and affects how well you hear over the short term. Regrettably, it can also cause the eardrum to burst, which results in long-term hearing loss. In turn, more permanent damage occurs to the hearing nerves from the inflammation, which is called sensorineural hearing loss.

Waiting could cost you

If you’re experiencing ear pain, have your ears examined by us. Oftentimes, a primary doctor assumes that the ear symptoms will disappear when the initial cold clears up. Occasionally, a patient will even forget to mention any pain they may be feeling in their ear. But the infection has probably gotten to the point where it’s causing damage to the ear if you’re experiencing pain. It’s paramount that the ear infection be treated quickly to avoid more harm.

In many cases, ear pain will remain even after the cold goes away. Most people usually decide to see a hearing specialist at this time. But by this time, a lot of damage has already been done. This damage often causes permanent hearing loss, particularly if you’re prone to ear infections.

Over time, hearing acuity is impacted by the small-scale scars and perforations of the eardrum which are the consequence of ear infections. The eardrum is a barrier between your inner and middle ear when it’s healthy and working in a normal capacity. If the eardrum becomes perforated even once, then the infection that was formerly confined to the middle ear can now go into the inner ear, where it can harm the irreplaceable tiny nerve cells that you need to hear.

What should you do if you waited to address that ear infection?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most people just assume ear pain with a cold is normal when it really signals a much more significant cold infection. You should make an appointment for a hearing assessment as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss after a cold.

We can assess whether the hearing loss is temporary (conductive). You may need to have a blockage professionally extracted if this is the situation. If you’re dealing with sensorineural, or irreversible hearing loss, there are treatment options, including new hearing technology, that we can help you with.

Make an appointment right away if you’re having difficulty hearing after a cold.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.